French prisoners Ride Tour de France

A Week is a Long Time in..

Peparing for the Tour de FranceQ.  In What?

  • In prison – yes obviously
  • In politics – yes
  • In a relationship – well yes, especially the past week for me
  • In Between News Items….

Yes! That’s the one!

Last week it was announced to the world that 196 convicted French prisoners are going to cycle this years Tour de France route.  See the Reuters News item here which originally reported the story: What could possibly go wrong?

It’s an enlightened bit of prisoner rehabititation.  The 196 inmates plus 124 obviously fit guards are doing the 17 stages, stopping in towns each night that all have a prison, but staying in hotels.

Now contrast this with the report last month about the shocking state of French jails (Prison guards’ strike hits packed French jails).

In fact, there is no contrast.  It’s the French guards who are protesting about the poor state of things, with five to a cell etc.

Taken in this context, the cycle ride does not sound so strange now, does it?

Today the Ride Sets Off

Penal Tour de France pedals offMany news organisations have reported the start of the run today.  They are all using the same copy, many using the same images as well.


FILE - This Wednesday June 4, 2009, file photo shows a pack of convicts, joined by their jailers, preparing to take the start from Villeneuve d'Ascq to Valenciennes, northern France, of the prologue of the "Tour de France Penitentiaire" for the jailed. Most days, they live behind bars. But last week, a pack of convicts, joined by their jailers, a police escort and a string of support vehicles, embarked upon the inaugural two-week, 2,200 kilometer cycling trek across the Gallic countryside, organized by French prison administrators. (AP Photo)

Penal Tour de France pedals off

They all report that 194 prisoners are doing the ride compared to the fact that they all reported that 196 were going to do it last week.

So what happened to the 2 men? !!

Did they, as all the news outlets so humourously remarked, go on a “breakaway sprint” which “are obviously not allowed”?  Or maybe they feared they’d have to cycle through Mulhouse which has this interesting cycle lane to negotiate.

Keeping cycle lanes clear of parked cars is a problem the world over. This design from Mulhouse in France provides a self enforcing solution; yellow bollards have proved to be much more effective than yellow lines at deterring illegal parking. Picture from Warrington Cycle Campaign

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